It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.
– Elizabeth Bennet
Anyone who is a Pride & Prejudice purist stop reading now. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is the screen adaptation of the 2009 parody novel by Seth Grahame-Smith which is based on Jane Austen’s 1813 novel, Pride & Prejudice. England is over-run with the living dead and it is up to the Bennet sisters to help restore order. Having been trained in the deadly arts in China, the young women have little time for frivolity as they prepare for the final battle, despite Mrs Bennet’s excitement at the arrival of Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy – sorry – I mean Colonel Darcy. Most of you reading this will already be familiar with the plot line of Austen’s P & P so I won’t deliberate over it here. What you probably want to know (especially if you haven’t read the 2009 book) is whether it’s just a bit ridiculous. Surprisingly enough – it’s not. Actually, zombies in Regency England is presented as making perfect sense. New zombie dialect is woven in among Austen’s original text flawlessly while still maintaining important character traits and developments – Mrs Bennet’s flightiness, Elizabeth’s independence, Mr Collin’s insipidness.
Speaking of Mr Collins, Matt Smith is perfection in this role. I was not expecting this film to make me laugh out loud, but the awkwardness which Smith brings to this character makes him my favourite of all the actors to have taken on the challenge that is Mr Collins. The title was previously held by David Bamber who wonderfully portrayed the clergyman in the 1995 BBC miniseries.
I shall never relinquish my sword for a ring. – Elizabeth
For the right man you would. – Charlotte
The right man wouldn’t ask me. – Elizabeth
The film is gruesome – so be prepared for that – but not over the top. The fight scenes are expertly choreographed and I even felt myself becoming anxious whenever the sisters left the house to walk toward Meriton. I especially liked the scene in which Darcy proposes but not for the reasons you might expect. Perhaps what I love most about this film is its strong female leads. The Bennet sisters are more than capable of defending themselves (and anyone else), with the greatest fighter in all of England being Lady Catherine de Bourgh. These women don’t need to be rescued, on the contrary, on more than one occasion they save the men’s lives. Below is one of my favourite scenes.
I loved the cast chosen for this – Sam Riley was adequately broody and dark as Colonel Darcy – and with Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen having already reprised the role he had some big shoes to fill. There was good chemistry between Riley and Lily James, in the role of Elizabeth Bennet, both doing justice to Austen’s original witty banter.
My daughters are trained for battle Sir, not the kitchen.
– Mr Bennet
Now, this might be making a big call, but I would probably list this as my favourite P & P adaptation. Ok, so it might come in second behind the 1995 BBC Colin Firth-in-a-wet-white-shirt version – but it’s a close call! I wished the film had gone on longer and been able to use more of the material in the book and delved into character development more deeply. Thoroughly entertaining, I laughed, I winced, I resolved to learn combat fighting and I threw up a little in my mouth – brilliant.